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Holiday Expectations: Put Norman Rockwell Away


The holidays are coming.

Are you excited?
Full of anticipation?
Or terrified.

For most typical homeschooling families the holidays are simply a great change of routine. They look forward to the many things that will be different during this season–a break with the daily standard, favorite recipes, music of the season. But that very change of routine, along with odd hours, different foods, different sounds, different activities–these are the things that can unravel our tightly-wired kids. So while you’re preparing for all the events, there’s one thing you can do to prepare yourself.

Check Your Holiday Expectations

Right now, this very moment, put your Norman Rockwell notions in a box. Put a pretty mental bow around them. (Personally, I’m fond of teal.) Now put the box under the bed, far to the back.

While you’re doing that, you should see another box hidden in the shadows under that bed. Reach in and pull it out. You’ll know it. It’s a ratty looking little thing. The corners are dented in. There’s some kind of food stain along the top and splashed down one side. This box has a bow too–sort of. But it looks hurriedly thrown together, a tad askew, and showing more than a few unraveling threads.

Okay, now pull it all the way out into the light.
Here it comes.
THIS is your box. It is how holidays often go.
It is reality.

Now, tug on that bow, take the lid off and look inside. While the holiday boxes of other families have a standard complement of items, yours is full of things that one wouldn’t expect, things that are surprising and completely unpredictable. Your family box contains some odd things, some funny things, some hysterical things, maybe some shocking things. But each one brings a memory that is uniquely your family’s, a wondrous blend of people that make memories like no other.

Other families never say things like:

  • Honey, don’t let the baby suck on your toes.
  • No more licking gummy bears and throwing them toward the ceiling till they stick.
  • How can you not know what you ran into? The bruise is between your eyes!

(No really. These are actual things collected in our “I Can’t Believe I Said That” contest.)

And weaving in and out of all the memories in this box is the heavy cord of love you feel for this family.
This unpredictable family.
This oh-so-very UN-Rockwell family.

Keep your mind and your heart on THIS box this season. Don’t pull out and cart around a set of demanding expectations that may then serve to destroy your ability to enjoy the love in this box that you have.

Remember This!

Expectations can be premeditated resentment.
Set those expectations aside. Let them go.
Your holiday memories are YOURS to create.
Do what works for you and your family.
Nothing more is needed.

Need some help getting your child holiday ready? Here’s a great resource — I created a sort of Holiday Social Skills Boot Camp in e-book form. It’s loaded with ideas. Get them ready today for what’s coming tomorrow.

Carol Barnier's objective is to have the wit of Erma Bombeck crossed with the depth of C.S. Lewis, but admits that on most days, she only achieves a solid Lucy Ricardo with a bit of Bob the Tomato.

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